Cleaning a g-tube and stoma (the opening where the tube enters the skin) for the first time can be really intimidating! It is also a little tricky if you don’t have the proper tools or methods. The goal of cleaning is to ensure that any remaining food, or formula, in the tube has been removed and that the stoma is clean and healthy. It’s sometimes hectic to remember everything that needs to be done for the tube, so here are so simple and easy steps to clean both the tubes and the stoma and to help you save time and any potential frustration that you might have.
I have personally tried these tips with my own syringes that I bought, and I did some experiments with how long it took me before and after I used the tips, and it significantly lowered my level of frustration (those things are super finicky & my OCD came out!).
Cleaning the Stoma
As the saying goes, “less is more”, and when it comes to cleaning the tube site this is the case. All that is needed is mild soap and warm water! It’s that simple! Site cleaning should be done at least once a day, but may need to be done more often if the tube is having drainage. Antibiotic ointments and hydrogen peroxide should NOT be used routinely.
Step 1: Wash your hands with soap and water.
Step 2: Use a clean wash cloth, cotton balls, or Q-tips to wash the skin around the tube with mild soap and warm water. Sometime with tube needs to be gently turned or rotated to get to the hard-to-reach places.
Step 3: Rinse the area with clean water. Any left over soap can irritate the skin.
Step 4: Dry the skin and tube thoroughly with a clean towel.
Try to work this into your wake-up/bed-time routine by cleaning your stoma anytime you shower or anytime you brush your teeth or gums. Oral care is still very important to prevent fungal infections and bad bacteria from getting into the lungs.
Remember: Keep skin clean and dry to prevent skin irritation and skin breakdown!
One of the most important things to keep in mind about the stoma is that the body wants to “heal” itself and is very good at it. The body begins to heal by producing new tissue, called granulation tissue, that fills in the wound. It is crucial to prevent any friction, from cleaning to roughly to bumpers or dressing that are too tight, that can cause skin breakdown. Also, keeping drainage under control can help to prevent hypergranulation, beefy red, raised tissue.
To learn more about skin issues and potential treatments, check out The Oley Foundation’s page written by a nurse that specialized in skin care.
Daily Skin Site Checks
Checking in on your stoma daily can help catch any issues early and get them treated! If you seen any of these issues, call your home health nurse or managing physician immediately.
-Look for skin redness around the tube (greater than 1/2 inch)
-Look for new or increased drainage or leaking
-Check for discomfort or pain
-Look for swelling or cracks to the skin
Cleaning the Tube Extensions
Some of these methods may work better than other for you, so mix and match with what you think is best! All methods should start with clean hands and clean supplies though. Remember to wash your hands with soap and water before cleaning the tube.
- Each day soak the tube extension and syringes in a skin with warm water and dish soap. Soaking for 30 minutes will help for the stuck-up parts. Then rinse with clean water and air dry.
- Roll the tube between your fingers, or use the handle of a knife – not the blade- as if you are curling a ribbon, to get any leftover food or crud out, and then use a cleaning brush to scrub the extensions and tubes.
- Use an endoscopy brush or a cleaning brush to help remove any residue. These brushes fit regular extensions, bolus extensions, 4’ Kangaroo tubing extensions, and any suction tubing.
- Pro Tip: Using a tooth brush can make cleaning ENfit connectors easier.
- Pro Tip: Once a week, do a deep clean by soaking the extension tube and syringes in full strength vinegar for 20 minutes to get rid of any build up. Rinse the tube with warm water and allow it to air dry.
Cleaning G-Tube Pads
Many families that have small children with feeding tubes use these G-tube pads because they cover and protect the stoma. They are usually made of soft cloth or fabric that has been sewn, so when washing them. It is recommended that they are hand washed or put in the washer on gentle.
A friend of mine that has a child who has a G-tube sent me this picture of how she washes and hang dries her g-tube pads (GENIUS!) and this is how she stores them.
**Be on the look out next week for a post about these g-tube pads, and a pattern that you can use to make them yourself!!**
Along with the G-tube pads, she has also used Equate brand Round Applicator Sponges when she has issues with the g-tube leaking because it seals the hole up nicely by pulling the g-tube balloon up into the hole! As with all drainage pads, the more they are changed, the less skin irritation will happen from their contents.
I hope cleaning tips are helpful for you and your families, and that they help to cut down on the overall cleaning time. I’d love to hear what other tips you have found helpful!
Be on the look out for next week’s “Tubie Tuesday” post on accessories for tubies!